Some people think that there aren't many Aboriginal actors around, and if there are, they're not that good. It's stupid. There's such an incredible pool of talent out there, and they're still coming out of drama schools. People just need to take a leap of faith.
My school friends thought I was outgoing and bubbly, but that masked a lot of insecurities, and maybe that's the reason I chose drama - to build a bit of self-confidence. I had a great teacher, and I won a few speech and drama competitions and just fell in love with it.
Motherhood is wonderful, but it's also hard work. It's the logistics more than anything. You discover you have reserves of energy you didn't know you had.
I like solitude. I'm very good at being disconnected. I do a lot of disappearing. People who know me go, 'Oh yeah, Mailman, she's gone into her cave again.' I'm like that, a bit of a hibernating bear. Like that crocodile that just sits there in the water and doesn't do much. I was always a bit of a dreamer as a kid, so that hasn't changed.
Dad passed away in 2000, but he visits me all the time. He comes to me in different ways. So I have that connection with him, and that comforts me, to know that in time I can come back and still have that with my kids. It's not unfamiliar to me, that connection with the afterlife. I know it's real; I experience it all the time.
The Australian film industry is a small industry, so you have to really be flexible within working in different mediums. A lot of actors work in theater, film, and television, because there's not much opportunity in terms of employment there. So you do have to be resourceful and be able to flex your muscles artistically.
I have worked with a lot of really great women directors: Ana Kokkinos; Cate Shortland, who just recently directed a film called 'Lore;' another director, Rachel Perkins - she's an Aboriginal director, and I've worked with her three times now, and she gave me my first film role, actually, back in 1997.
I guess there's this mind shift that happens once you're on stage. I don't know, chemicals, something happens and you just... I just become completely in control of where I am. And it's all about trusting the people that you're on the stage with, listening... and it just falls into place really easily.
Because I've got an AFI award, I feel there is a certain expectation when I walk into a room, you know, that 'That Deb Mailman must know something!' But I'm just as nervous with every experience. I still doubt whether or not I can pull something off. I still think, 'When is the review going to come along that says Deb Mailman's not very good?'